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Dino Misetic – Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

Dino Misetic

Dino Misetic

Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man

by Richard Vitali

Dino Misetic, 27, is Washington DC based artist whose new exhibition “life and LIFE” opens April 23, 2009 at Mendelson Gallery in Pittsburgh. This young emerging artist, who got his degree in Fine Art in 2005 from Carnegie Mellon University, spends months creating each piece – closing the gap between reality and imagination.

With his good looks you may expect him to pop up on the streets of Hollywood, but this new kid on the art block is very successfully working to establish himself as one of most important emerging young artists on the American scene.

A few weeks ago, we met with him in his apartment to discuss his life and career.

You grew up in the War-ravaged former Yugoslavia.  How did that affect you?

I was a kid around that time and I had a large group of friends. I viewed the war and atrocities through a fantastic lens. When you’re faced with something of that scale of darkness, it’s difficult to not include it as a part of imagination. It sort of becomes an entity residing in your creativity, molding it this and that way. Some of the strongest memories I have were for some reason of animals – dogs especially. There were a lot of stray dogs during the war and my friends and I made a little gang and always had five or six of these strays we used to take care of and feed. I also remember how during it all the kids living in various apartment buildings became identified by the color of the building, such as grey and green, and we would always consider each of the other groups of kids as rivals. We would throw rocks at each other, fight, make dogs fight, catch pigeons, chase girls, play soccer, dodge bombs, run for shelter, play in a medical dumpster, sell cigarettes, stand in line for bread…that’s about the gist of what we did during the war.

What was your first exposure to art as a child?

My earliest memory was a Japanese museum exhibit my mom took me to see. I remember seeing a Samurai armor in a large glass case. That was the first time I recall having an experience that moved me. There was something in the patterns and the beauty of it sitting there in silence and isolation. To this day I love Japanese work whether it be art or craft. Japanese swords are a prime example. So much complexity and time goes into one of these masterpieces, yet the finished work is so simple and rhythmic and possessed so much beauty.

Artwork by Dino Misetic

Did you receive support from your parents when you decided that art was your calling?

Drawing is something I have always done and loved doing since I was a kid. My parents were very supportive of me which makes me somewhat of a lucky guy. I don’t really think I have made a clear decision. It wasn’t something that I chose to do. I mean there was a brief period of time when I considered studying law purely based on the income, but that was more of an artificial decision based on popular choice in careers. I consider art the most difficult relationship you can possibly imagine. It can beat you down and hurt you in the deepest way possible and leave no bruises, but it can also give you that moment of ecstasy that’s worth all of the hardships.

Do you see connection between fine art, music, comic books and books in general? Where is the start and stop that magic line which is connecting them?

Of course. It’s difficult – if not impossible – to ignore all the influences those have on you. For example, if I am painting a sad piece I prefer to listen to music that synchronizes with that emotion. I loved comics as a kid and still do to this day. They are some of my go-to reading materials. I mean to say, all the things coming out of an unknown place and being formed into text, images, or sound, or objects, are related and influence the world around them. Sometimes I start with a short story or a poem to get an idea for a painting. I get vivid images from reading and writing.

What can you tell me about your paintings?

First thing I see in my own work is some sort of a longing for something. I think of my work as poetic and narrative and atmospheric. There is something in darkness that intrigues me and leads me blindly. It’s like a kid being dared to walk into a pitch-black tunnel. That moment of decision when you look into the tunnel your mind races and processes thousands of things at once. There is so much to see in darkness.

Artwork by Dino Misetic

How much positive came out from your studying Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University?

(Laughs) Well, I’ve learned a lot about financial aid and how to bullshit about your work. As a school it exposed me to different types of art and showed me you don’t necessarily have to be talented to be an artist as long as you are able to execute a concept successfully. My biggest issue with school was that there was too much talking. The school was heavy on the concept side, so it allowed for three-hour studios where you look at the same slides from the year before and hear the same story with a different bias. The highlight of the education is one of my professors, Martin, who I really enjoy talking to and admire his skill. The unfortunate thing is that he was only there for my last semester and I didn’t have the chance to take another course with him.

Did you have any professors or some of your colleagues or students that were of assistance to you?

Well… yes and no. It’s an art school so everyone has their own opinions, and everyone is creative, and everyone wants to tell you the way it is, so you get to choose your own flavor. The good thing about art school is that you can get feedback from students and professors. That is the first thing I missed about not being in that environment. It really means a lot when someone takes the time to talk to you about your work in progress. It helps you see it a little better and motivate you for the next move.

Artwork by Dino Misetic

Are you afraid of isolation?

I always hope that I will fall into a state of such isolation that I would have nothing else to do but paint. That would be bliss! I think I would be able to produce more than I do now and give every ounce of myself to creating.

When you paint to you see yourself as a young artist?

I see myself as an old soul making young art.

Do you see yourself becoming a successful commercial artist?

I see my work as a statement of my generation and I see it developing in front of me. I’ve gone through many phases in my work and have only recently isolated that thing that all of my pieces have in common and that has been very enlightening. I can only see myself maturing and getting better and better. I don’t plan on quitting so now is the time to buy!

Why did you decide to move from Pittsburgh to Washington DC? I can understand if your decision was to move to New York City or Los Angeles, but Washington DC is not really art center of the World…

Now I know. I just wanted to get out and live elsewhere for a while. See what it’s like being away and starting new. The art scene isn’t so bad. It isn’t New York or London, but it has its interesting spots. I think DC is heavier on the street art and a lot of it displays in galleries here. I look at Washington as the next step. There will be another after this one, and another after that one, until I get comfortable.

Copyright ©2009  All rights reserved.  Posted: April 19, 2009.

Picture Credits:#1 © 2009. Courtesy of Dino Misetic.  All rights reserved.#2 © 2009. Courtesy of Dino Misetic.  All rights reserved.#3 © 2009. Courtesy of Dino Misetic.  All rights reserved.#4 © 2009. Courtesy of Dino Misetic.  All rights reserved.

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